May 29, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Stephen Jackson (3) battles for position with Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) during the second half in game two of the Western Coneference finals of the 2012 NBA playoffs at the AT

ESPN NBA Rank: Stephen Jackson finishes 151st

ESPN has officially embarked on their quest to rank the top 500 NBA players for the upcoming season. As each Spur is listed, I will provide a synopsis and a brief take on why they deserve (or don’t) this ranking.

Stephen Jackson fell from the 77th to the 151th slot in ESPN’s NBA Rank, a drop of 74 spots that indicated his decreasing efficacy. He was still productive with the San Antonio Spurs (in fact, he was quite instrumental in the playoffs) and he still had a penchant for creating points on the offensive end and defending multiple positions.

His stint with Milwaukee is the culprit for his drop.. He averaged more points with Milwaukee but he did so less efficiently and in four more minutes per game. His rebounding numbers were actually worse with the Bucks despite playing more minutes as he grabbed a rebound on 6.4% of his possessions on the floor, his lowest mark since the 2007-08 season.

He was different with San Antonio. His rebounding numbers rose precipitously, his defense became instantly more valuable and he shot at an efficiency comparable to his career norms. In fact, he grabbed a rebound on 9.3% of San Antonio’s possessions while he was on the floor which would have been a career high mark extrapolated over an entire season.

My take. Jackson probably won’t appreciate his fall but it is justified (albeit a bit extreme because there is a case to put him in the top 100-130 players). But he still has plenty to play for: This season will represent a bit of crossroads that will determine whether he continues to play a solid brand of basketball or whether he bottoms out and begins his rapping career earlier than he expects.

Jackson is entering his 13th season this year and his $10.06 million salary is coming off San Antonio’s books next season. There is plenty of incentive, aside from his ranking, to keep Jackson engaged the entire season.

Other Spurs already ranked: DeJuan Blair (155) | Danny Green (160) | Boris Diaw (162) | Gary Neal (171) | Matt Bonner (198) | Patty Mills (309) | James Anderson (424) | Cory Joseph (458) | Derrick Byars (488)

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